Tool - Process Relationship Map

The Process Relationship Map (PRM) is part of the Project Definition Worksheet (PDW). It is a picture of the input/output relationships between the major work processes in an organization. It will help you understand and display the network of processes required to conduct the business. It will also identify how other processes affect or are impacted by a specific process selected for improvement.

When to Use

Use the PRM in Step 5, Task 1-Construct a Process Relationship Map:

  • Any time the business' operating context needs to be understood.
  • During any analytical, definition or design work where it is important to understand the big picture.
  • During any project where it is important to understand how processes impact each other.


How to Use

A standard PRM would have the following components:

Process Relationship Map Printer Friendly Version
First, develop a Process Inventory using the Process Inventory Tool.
Two alternatives to develop the PRM:
  1. The Process Relationship Map Template is a PowerPoint document consisting of one slide. If you choose to create the map in PowerPoint, you will need to use the drawing tools in PowerPoint.
  2. Print the PowerPoint slide template, then enlarge it to wall size and create the map using sticky notes. After the map is complete, you can draw it in PowerPoint or using business-diagramming software (see the list below in the Materials Required section).

Whichever method you choose, refer to your Process Inventory and follow these steps to build a PRM:

  1. Lay out a chart with bands for the process types:
    • Customer band represents the processes that occur in the client's customers' organizations that interface with the client's processes. The names might not be specific and many assumptions can be made here to complete the map.
    • Management band represents the processes that provide direction and guidance to the organization, e.g., Strategic Planning Process, Budgeting Process, Business Planning Process, etc.
    • Primary band represents the processes that produce the product or service that the client organization is in business to produce, the value chain is another name for these key or core processes, e.g., Selling Process, Order Fulfillment Process, Customer Support Process, etc.
    • Support band represents the processes that enable the other processes to work effectively, e.g., Staffing Process, IS/IT Process, Accounts Payable Process, Capital Appropriation Process, etc.
    • Supplier band represents the processes that occur in the client's suppliers' organizations that interface with the client's processes. The names might not be specific and many assumptions can be made here to complete the map.
  2. Place the first process box from your Process Inventory in the appropriate band leaving space for other processes that occur chronologically before this process. On the PRM, a box represents an entire process. If it is important to show sub-processes and put them inside the process box.
  3. Add "upstream" and "downstream" processes that provide input or receive output (refer to your Process Inventory). Time moves from left to right.
  4. Connect the process boxes with labeled arrows representing the inputs and outputs for each process. Typically, focus on the most important two or three outputs for each process (refer to your Process Inventory).
  5. Number the boxes top-to-bottom, left-to-right as identifiers, not to indicate specific sequence.
  6. Revise as needed, have the map validated and revise again.

Once you have built your PRM, transfer it to the Process Relationship Map section of the PDW.

Time Required

The information you need to build a PRM is contained in the process profile data and the process inventory data gathered in your interviews with either the Executive Team or other designated specialists. Once that information is collected, it may take you several hours to build the map, depending on its complexity. You will need additional time to generate electronic documentation (see the list of business diagramming software below).

Materials Required

You will need the following materials to construct your PRM:

  • Process Profile information (see the Critical Process Profile section of your PDW)
  • Process Inventory
  • 11x17 grid paper, flip chart paper or enlarged hardcopy of PRM PowerPoint Template
  • Post-it notes and pens
  • The PRM PowerPoint Template or business-diagramming software (optional) such as:
    • Visio Professional from Microsoft
    • IGrafx from MicroGrafx
    • TopDown Flowcharter from Kaetron
    • WinFlow from Mainstay
    • allCLEAR from SPSS
    • ProVison from ProForma

  • Give each process box a title that indicates the name of the process and not the name of the department with most responsibility for the process. It is easy to misinterpret the map if the boxes "sound" like departments. For example, it is better to call a process "Product Design" than "Engineering" or "New Product Development" instead of "R&D." If necessary, add the word "Process" to each title to ensure the reader reads the map as processes and not departments.
  • Sometimes PRMs are very large, detailed and complicated. In these cases name the phases or stages of the business and group processes within those designations on the top of the map.